... colourful, whimsically inventive ... The author adopts a unique writing style to match Delly’s crass street cadence and tendency to mash together words making up non-existent terms like ‘considerationary’ or ‘productivication’ which may be off-putting to some readers at first, but I quickly acclimatised and found it made the reading experience much more immersive ... The romance between Delly and Winn is too adorable for words and a definite highlight of the story ... It’s perhaps a bit unbelievable that Winn is so invested in Delly as she is from early in the book, but their courtship is so sweet and endearing that it’s easy to be swept away in how charming the pair are together. I thoroughly enjoyed how low-maintenance this romantic relationship was with any potential angle for contrived drama being smoothed away and the main focus simply on how good the ladies were for each other ... Whether or not the main characters win over the reader will be a major factor in how successful the plot is at drawing them in ... The ladies spend so much time preparing their ingredients for their master plan, which feels rather tangential to their ultimate goal and appears a lot higher on the cost side of the cost-benefit analysis, only for it to result in the shortest, least satisfying pay-off that many readers will find woefully anticlimactic after all that planning and waiting and preparation ... The strength of characterisation and interpersonal dynamics between the varied female characters is what carries this novel, and readers who are invested in the quirky, feisty ladies will be more forgiving of a slow-moving plot as it’s so entertaining to spend time with this unlikely assembly of misfits ... An outrageously original and marvellously diverting feminist fantasy romp with standout characters and a delightful sapphic romance.
... a dazzling, romantic fantasy quest that requires all of the cogs in readers’ brains to turn at once. Beyond her exceedingly clever, tongue-in-cheek chapter titles that harken back to classic adventure tales and her pointed observations of human—and other creatures’—true nature, Waggoner gifts readers with the delinquent, sailor-mouthed, headstrong, queer protagonist that they never knew they always needed, not to mention a riveting plot that continuously satisfies ... As characters begin what is quite possibly the strangest bonding experience of their entire lives, Waggoner gives each a distinct voice and personality—readers will develop more than a few memorable favorites. Waggoner excels at detailed world building, from the opulent nobles’ homes and foods to the sensory feel of both the gutterlife and manors, to the stench of the local pub and even the squeak of a mattress during Delly’s cavorting with assorted fellows. But its playful title does not do such a marvelous book, or its themes, justice. Delly’s world is a land where householded (adopted) children, questionably reanimated animals, neglectful mothers, drug addiction, mysterious potions and queer romances are quite the norm. This is a book of unlikely friendships and morbid humor that is unafraid to explore relevant and oft-avoided topics.
It was a joy to return to the world of C. M. Waggoner, whose first novel Unnatural Magic, I absolutely loved. And though we’ve left behind the characters of the first novel for the most part, there are some delicious details here and there for astute readers ... Delly Wells is the best kind of protagonist. Selfish, skittish, anxious and overwhelmed, smart, opportunistic, a good heart under all the bluster, and yes, ruthless ... the other characters...make this world as rich and alive as can be ... Waggoner’s characters absolutely shine, and she writes with an ear for the cadence and rhythm of their voices ... At turns tongue-in-cheek, acerbic, sorrowful, romantic, and epic in the scope of what could happen if it all goes wrong, Waggoner never loses sight of what each scene needs in order to get the reader invested wholly in the story. No, the world won’t exactly end if our heroes don’t succeed, rather it is the lives of regular people at stake, and those are just as important as the systems by which the world run—probably more ... daring sequence of events that kept me enthralled and rooted to my seat for hours on end ... It may seem like a lot to juggle, but Waggoner does it with ease, keeping you rapt the entire time.